Cruising down the PCH on my way towards LA, my cell phone cut out, ending my conversation with Dan. I was in a talkative mood and tried call him back. Nothing. "The service is always shit here," I thought to myself and continued on my way to Malibu.
Up a head, a slight figure walked d0wn the side of the road wearing a backpack. As I passed, I slowed and gave him the once over. He was clean cut, maybe in his late fifties, wearing a pull over fleece and running shoes. Certainly not your standard variety of Tropical Zombie that wonderes up and down the California Coast looking like an extra from Waterworld. Down shifting, and pulling into the shoulder, It took me a couple hundred yards to slow to a stop.
In my rear view mirror, I watched has his slow gate pick up to a jovial combination of jogging and fast walking.
"Where are you headed?"
"South, as far as you're going. I'm on my way to San Diego."
"Alright, well I can take you to downtown LA or Santa Monica. Hop in."
"Thank you so much, I really appreciate it," he said as he slid open the back door and dropped his backpack next to my board bag.
"No problem man, happy to give you a lift."
"My name is Abel, what's yours?" He asked genuinely as he jumped up into the passenger seat.
"Like Cain and Abel? My name is Foster. Nice to meet you Abel."
For the next hour, our conversation rambled without the limitations of acknowledged future interactions. When time with another person is finite, conversations develop quickly. We talked about our travels, where we've lived and surfing. When he asked where I was from, I told Abel that I was born in Portland but grew up in the Columbia River Gorge. Looking like I just rattled off a name of a Mongolian provence, I then explain that it's about 50 miles east of Portland on the Oregon and Washington border.
Outside of the Northwest, few people have heard of this region or its beauty. Answering the primordial desire to explain your home, I take it upon myself to enlighten people about the Gorge to anyone that will listen. Seeing that Abel was trapped in my van on our way southward, he had little choice but to listen to my prosthelytizing.
Sunset on an old pasture.
The Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, Oregon.
The green room.
"She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine."
The Washougal River Valley.
Maddie is the most famous dog in Hawaii, maybe even the world.
An orchard in bloom in Moiser.
Dock Life in Washougal.
High flows on the waterfalls.
The mobile changing room is back in action.
"Alright, anywhere hear is good. I'm going to try to take the PCH down to Longbeach tonight," Abel said motioning towards a parking lot on the side of the PCH in Santa Monica.
Pulling over at a Chevron, I shifted into neutral. "Good luck man. Hope you get down to San Diego soon and if you ever make it up north, check out the Gorge. It's a little slice of heaven. You won't regret it."
"Sounds like it. I can't wait to see it. Safe travel's Foster," Abel said shouldering his pack.
"You to Abel." Pulling out of the parking lot, I watched in my rear view mirror as Abel marched down the Santa Monica Sidewalk. "Good luck!" I yelled out of the open window.
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